Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)

A heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction, is a severe condition where the muscular layer of the heart (myocardium) is deprived of its blood supply and oxygen for an extended period of time.

Causes of a heart attack include a clot blocking a blood vessel in the heart or a vessel spasm, which is often seen in cocaine users.

Heart Attack Symptoms

Symptoms of heart attach include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain that radiates to the jaw, shoulder, left arm, and neck
  • Severe, pressure-like chest pain that lasts more than 30 minutes and is not relieved by nitroglycerin
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Sweating (diaphoresis)

Heart Attack Diagnosis

Your UT Southwestern Medical Center doctor may perform several tests to diagnose the problem. Common diagnostic tests include:

Cardiac enzyme studies
 To show if heart muscle was destroyed
Electrocardiography
 To look for elevations or depressions in the amounts of time at the end of the ventricles’ contraction and the time for the recovery period
Physical exam
 To identify low blood pressure, a high heart rate, or a new mitral regurgitation murmur

Heart Attack Treatment

Heart attacks are treated with:

Adjunctive therapy
 Including beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, anticoagulants, or aspirin
Anti-arrhythmic therapy
 To improve the heart rate
Clot-dissolving medications
 Given within six hours of the onset of chest pain
Digitalis or vasodilators
 For treatment of heart failure
Morphine sulfate
 For pain relief and anxiety
Nitroglycerin
 For pain relief

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a heart expert at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.